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Mullen girls working toward improvement

By Neil H. Devlin, Mullen Sports Information Director
'Stangs display strong defense and flashes of losing their offensive problems; Schwertner and Perez lead the way.
“Another one down,” Mullen head coach Frank Cawley said.

With the three-time defending Class 4A state champions still mired in an offensive funk of sorts, the Mustangs showed further signs of dispatching it on Friday night in a 49-26 decision of Eaglecrest in the Centennial League at Hutchison Fieldhouse.

Mullen moved to 10-4 overall, 3-1 in the loop. The Raptors are 8-6, 2-4.

“It’s the tale of two ends of the floor,” Cawley said. “We’re struggling offensively, but defensively we gave up 11 points in the first half and I told them a good defensive effort takes care of a lot of offensive woes.”

The Mustangs, in giving up their lowest season total since the 22 they surrendered to Broomfield in their opener in November, held the Raptors to single digits in three of the four quarters.

As for offensively, Mullen’s total was its lowest in a victory to date in 2021-22 as Cawley said his players “are thinking too much, trying to run more sets … I think we just need to let them play with their athleticism.”

The Mustangs were never seriously challenged after grabbing an early lead. Sophomore Allison Schwertner topped Mullen with 14 points and Gracie Gallego got going late to add 10. Imani Perez, cited by Cawley, had nine points and 12 rebounds in addition to strong defense and contributing on the fast break in transition.

“I was ready to play,” Perez said. “We had a couple of games where we didn’t play as well and we had to have a comeback.”

As for getting back into a team groove, Perez added “we’re playing through it” and she and her teammates realize “defense is a big part of offense.”

Cawley also mentioned the play of freshmen Tatum Jones and Ryker Thomas.

It will be a quick turn-around for Mullen – it will host Ralston Valley on Saturday, Jan. 22, 1 p.m. in nonleague. It’s the last of two games to cover the Mustangs’ 23-game regular season schedule as league officials opted to have loop teams play struggling Overland and Smoky Hill just once as opposed to the usual home-and-away.

Mullen beat 5A Ralston Valley (9-3) 67-32 on Dec. 4 to win Horizon’s tournament.

Eaglecrest  8  3  11  4  –  26

Mullen  14  12  13  10  –  49

Eaglecrest – Ramiro 3 1-3 8, Farbes 1 0-2 2, Esser 1 0-0 3, McKenzie 5 0-1 10, Back 1 0-0 3, Bickerstaff 0 0-0 0, Perkins 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 1-6 26.

Mullen --  Gutierrez 0 2-2 2, Perez 4 1-2 9, Schwertner 6 0-0 14, Gallegos 5 0-0 10, Jones 1 2-4 4, Giacomin 1 1-2 4, Thomas 1 2-3 4, Deloach 1 0-0 2. Totals 19 8-11 49.

3-pt. goals – Back, Esser, Ramiro; Schwertner 2, Giacomin.